The Northern Peruvian Highlands are one of Peru’s least traveled areas, but not for lack of attractions. Here, the Andes climb up from the coast and descend into the Amazon; in the middle lay the Chachapoyas and Cajamarca regions of Peru. Chachapoyas is surrounded by recently discovered ruins while Cajamarca is dotted with classic colonial architecture. The beauty of the two areas of Peru is that they are much less visited than other colonial and ruin destinations in Peru. The lack of visitors is not the result of less-than-spectacular attractions, but almost entirely to do with the windy, bumpy and generally shoddy roads that lead into the region.
Hidden within the lush, virgin jungle surrounding Chachapoyas are a plethora of architectural treasures-many of which have been recently found. For ruin lovers there are several remote ruin sites that carry with them a more adventurous feeling than more touristy areas like Machu Picchu. The most popular site is Kuélap which is perched out on a limestone peak. Getting to many of the sites is not easy, but it certainly is fun-some require a mixture of 4×4 vehicle and horseback to get there.
The colonial history of Cajamarca is evident during a stroll through the town’s central area, where colonial buildings sit on cobble-stoned streets. While their beauty is easy to appreciate, they also represent the end of Incan rule in the area. Outside of Cajamarca, the Incan presence can be seen in the crumbling ruins in the countryside.